Not surprisingly, the last Heuer catalogue released in 1984 is a mix between the classic Heuer models appearing for the last time and the new generation models that would form the backbone of the TAG Heuer range through the 1980s.
Alongside the Chronomatic-powered watches (such as the Autavia, Skipper, Monza and Calculator) and Lemania 5100 watches (Carrera, Cortina and Silverstone) was an expansive range of diver watches- the 1000 and 2000 Series. Joining this range of diver watches for the first time in 1984 was a new premium range of watches- the 3000 Series.
As the unimaginative name suggests, the watch was positioned above the 1000 and 2000 series, even though it shared many of the same “six features“. Given the parlous state of the Swiss watchmaking industry in the early 1980s, it made sense to eek out as many model variants as possible using as few unique parts as possible.
However while the 1000 and 2000 series were extremely popular, lasting several decades, the 3000 was only on sale for just over 5 years and underwent only minor changes throughout its life.
While not at the top of many collectors’ wish lists, the 3000 is still an interesting chapter in TAG Heuer’s struggle out of the 1980s.
The 3000 design is essentially a development of the successful 2000-series launched in 1982. Where the 2000 had a smooth, rounded case, the 3000 squared those curves away to create a more technical looking watch. Complementing the angular case was a huge 12-sided bezel that sat inside the width of the watch. While not as wide as the case itself, the bezel was very thick, as you can see below. While it’s the bezel that gives this watch its character, it’s also in my view the weakest part of the overall look and the single element that firmly places the design in the 1980s. The Bezel also features small ball-shaped grips at each corner to make it easier to turn.
One of the other design features of the watch was the cyclops over the date window at 3 o’clock. Unlike most Cyclops that sit on top of the crystal, this one sits under the crystal.
The pushers used on the 3000 are different to both the 1000 and 2000 series, and have a similar design to the ones used on the Chronomatic watches of the 1970s.
The 3000 resorted to small design tricks to give a feeling of “premium-ness” over the other dive watches in the Heuer range. Metal borders were used on each of the hour-markers, as well as on the date window and the sub-dials of the Chronograph. Efforts were also made with the bracelet, several models having polished centre links to contrast with the brushed finish of the outer-links.
The watch was initially available as a watch and a Chronograph in the four colours you see below and in four sizes- as with the 1000 series, there was a Full size, Medium, Boys and Ladies model, which does seems like overkill given the similarity between the three men’s sizes.
The Chronograph shared the same basic design of the watch, the only real difference being the use of baguette-shaped hour-markers instead of the circles used on the watch.
The 3000 used the same family of movements as the 2000 Series, with the majority of the watch range using the relatively common ESA 555. 112/ ETA 955.112 quartz movement. The Chronograph movements, however, are far more interesting because both the quartz and automatic chronograph use the Dubois Depraz 2000 chronograph module. The Automatic movement (LWO 283) mates the DD2000 module to the ETA 2892 base while the quartz movement (Calibre 185) uses the same Quartz base as the watch. You can read more about these movements here.
TAG Heuer 3000
The series carried on largely unchanged as a TAG Heuer. Apart from the obvious TAG Heuer logo, the only change to the dial was the “3000” script moving from just below the Heuer shield to the bottom half of the dial.
Somewhere between 1986 and 1989 the 3000 Chronograph was dropped, leaving only the basic watch. This was around the time that TAG Heuer was phasing out its use of the Dubois Depraz movements, so I suspect that the view was the sales of the Chronograph did not call for going to the trouble of fitting a new movement.
There was one detailed change to the 3000 for its last year in 1980/ 90. The very last of the series dropped the 3000 name from the dial entirely and replaced the Monochrome TAG Heuer logo with a coloured logo
The 3000 Series will never be remembered as one of the great TAG Heuer watches, and you’d get long odds on there ever being a re-edition. To me the bezel dominates the watch too much, yet somehow looks to small for the watch, as you can see in the photo above. The good news is that these watches are absolute bargains second-hand, with very good examples selling for only a couple of hundred dollars.
But despite its flaws, the 3000 was one of the watches that kept TAG Heuer alive in the 1980s- without the quartz based diver range of that era, the company almost certainly would not have survived.
The watch was indirectly replaced in 1990 by the 4000 series, a watch that took a totally new approach to design, owing nothing to the quirky TAG Heuer 3000.
Many thanks to Jim/ Eeeb, the moderator of the TAG Heuer forum at Watchuseek, for the kind use of his photos.